People | 20 QUESTIONS

Aki Fujita Taguchi on life behind the camera

by Sergio Burns

Contributing Writers

Name: Aki Fujita Taguchi
Age: MTV generation
Nationality: Japanese
Occupation: Music photographer
Likes: Photography, art, music, coffee, cats
Dislikes: Rudeness


1. Who bought your first camera, what was it? Myself. It was a second-hand Nikon FE with a 50-millimeter f1.4 lens.

2. When and what inspired you to get serious about photography? When I was a college student, I saw some brilliant pictures that the French photographer Eugene Atget took in the 19th century. They were beautiful — beyond description — and made me fall in love with photography.

3. Why rock/music photography? I’ve been a huge rock music fan since I was a child. I saw tons of gigs and music videos, and liked magazines and rock photographs. So I had a strong desire to visualize my passion for music and photography into my own style of art.

4. What camera and gear do you like to use now? I switched from Nikon to Sony three years ago. No regrets! When I am only allowed to photograph the first three songs of a concert, I usually use two bodies (A7RM3 and A7M3) and three lenses (16-35 mm, 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm). If I have more time, I use prime lenses like a 35 mm, 50 mm and 85 mm.

5. You are the first Japanese photographer contracted to Dalle (a French News Agency), how much of a difference has this made to you? It gave me more opportunities to shoot international acts. When I got a contract from them, most of the bands I had photographed were local Japanese ones. So I’m still not sure why they offered it to me.

6. Do you have a favorite phone app? I have an iPhone 7. My favorite apps are Simple Habit (meditation), Podcasts and HTBARP (How To Become A Rockstar Photographer).

7. Have you ever, or do you think you would ever use your iPhone for serious photographic purposes? No. Never.

8. What is your opinion of Instagram photos and filters? Well … honestly, it’s really hard to find a hidden gem there. But they might be better than Facebook and Twitter. I can’t find any point to posting family, political, food or selfie stuff on social media. I’m only interested in art. And I never use Instagram filters.

9. If you were going out for the night and could choose anyone from history to have dinner with, who would it be? Lovely question. Jim Morrison would be great!

10. Is there anything that you would never leave home without? Sunglasses and ear plugs. Bright sun and noisy people make me sick.

11. What’s your strategy for getting the best photographs at a rock concert? I check the band’s information as much as I can, through websites, social media and videos. In particular, I watch a previous show (on YouTube) of the same tour and check the first three songs to see the band’s performance, stage lighting, drum settings, etc. I learned this from the editor of Chasing The Light Art magazine and his advice helped me a lot. Thank you David Gasson!

12. Can you remember the first rock concert you worked at? As I recall, it was Outatoon (a local alternative band in Tokyo) in 1998. The bass player in that band later became my husband.

13. When you were making your way as a rock photographer, what was the best piece of advice you were given? To write down, “I have to sell my photos otherwise I’ll have to live under a bridge soon,” and tape it to the wall. It was by Matthias Hombauer (another photographer).

14. A wide circle of friends or a few close friends? I have no friends actually. Maybe I have been focusing on photography too much. It’s much more comfortable to be alone.

15. How critical are you of your own work? I think I still have a long way to go!

16. If you were not working as a rock photographer what would you be doing? I can’t imagine. But anyway, I always want to be involved in art.

17. Can you tell us anything about yourself that may surprise your friends or family? I used to work for the government. Sometimes I see ghosts.

18. You like to travel — is there anywhere in the world you still want to visit? I’d love to visit small Greek islands in summer again. Love the weather, beautiful Aegean Sea, kind people, lovely animals, everything.

19. What was it like being named one of the top 55 rock photographers in the world in the inaugural edition of How To Become A Rockstar Photographer magazine? It was a great honor and I literally couldn’t believe it. I showed the email to my husband to confirm it was true.

20. Do you have any projects underway? I take part in two group exhibitions in 2019, hopefully there will be more to come. Please stop by and let’s talk about rock music and photography. Everybody is welcome. Please check my website for updates.

For more information about Aki Fujita Taguchi’s work, visit www.aftphotography.tokyo.

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